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Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party’

The Batesian Mimicry of Mitch Daniels

May 18, 2011 1 comment

Venomous candidates like Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann are natural primary candidates in today’s increasingly extreme GOP. Despite the Tea Party’s claims that only fiscal responsibility drives their movement, social and cultural issues undoubtably animate most of the Republican Party base. This poses an obvious difficulty for the GOP’s sane wing and the establishment’s desire to win a general election. Everyone’s familiar with Mitt Romney’s constant metamorphosis, but now Mitch Daniels hopes to successfully attract enough primary voters without losing what makes him appealing to reasonable conservatives and moderates.

The timescale of evolution doesn’t usually provide us the opportunity to watch major transformations in real time, but this political specimen exemplifies a classic case of Batesian mimicry.

When a perfectly edible species evolves to resemble a noxious one that is avoided by predators, thereby gaining protection from being eaten, it’s called Batesian mimicry, after the English naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates, who described the phenomenon.

Primary voters classify as voracious predators ready to devour candidates that don’t look enough like themselves. So the same Governor that called for a truce on social issues has now defunded Planned Parenthood in Indiana harming vulnerable women and families. Unfortunately, the natural selection of the primary race runs in this direction. Until the environment changes, candidates must move increasingly rightward in order to survive. Conservative elites and pundits play a large role in shaping that environment – so unless they start resisting against this arms-race we’ll continue to see tasteful candidates turn noxious.

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Conservatives Vs Populists

October 21, 2010 1 comment

Here’s an indispensable post via The Daily Dish. The Republicans have said they won’t cut the blue parts…

2009budget

And who thinks they’ll cut much of the red which includes things like this (even if they cut it all “wouldn’t even eliminate half of last year’s deficit”). Meanwhile, Conservatives in Britain are saying what they’ll cut:

Spending-review-20_1743728a

So how is the GOP “conservative” again?

I’d Start By Cutting The B.S.

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Too few politicians are willing to say what they’d actually cut. It’s a bipartisan problem, but the hypocrisy runs a bit deeper with the GOP. After all, they’re the party running as the fiscally responsible counter to President Obama’s postulated lack of frugality.

The reality is cutting spending is hard. At least a few think tanks on the left and the right have taken up the challenge and said specifically what they’d cut. The progressive Center for American Progress details its “Thousand Cuts” here. The libertarian CATO Institute promotes its “Downsizing Government” website to outline what it would cut. These projects and others are extremely valuable, but I do recognize it is much easier for a think tank to say what it would cut than it is for an elected politician. In a way, I blame the electorate more than the politicians. We are the ones that elect the politicians who are only responding to how we vote. So, if you say you want a politician that is willing to cut spending make sure they are mentioning the types of things found in either of these reports. If they don’t and you vote for them anyway – you only have yourself to blame.

Oil and Water, ctd

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

It wasn’t just 1 Republican…

A Republican Not Interested In Policy

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

John Boehner gives us an example of the mainstream GOP that refuses to offer actual policy proposals. This is the House Minority Leader and he’s not willing to answer a simple question. Republicans want to cut the deficit but won’t say what they’d cut or admit that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. Explain to me again why Paul Ryan is the “flimflam man?”



[update]: Dylan Matthews on Ezra Klein’s blog compiles experts and opinion-writers views on “Where does the Laffer Curve bend?”

Ezra Klein interviews Paul Ryan

This blog has covered a fair amount of Rep. Paul Ryan, 1 Republican I know of who is willing to be serious even if I disagree with much of his short-term prescriptions. Here’s his interview with Ezra Klein.

Do you worry that even if you got your spending cuts, the American economy will suffer? A report released by the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and United States Conference of Mayors said they’ll have to lay off 500,000 people in the next few years if they don’t get some fiscal relief. That’s 500,000 people on the unemployment rolls.

I’ve always believed we need automatic stabilizers. We need a safety net. But I think it’s becoming equally important to show we’re not going to borrow endlessly. I also think it’s a bad idea to bail out states from making the necessary decisions they need to make to increase and fix their structural deficit problems. All you’re doing then is putting their liabilities on the federal books. And I assume those jobs are mostly public sector jobs. If you focus on those, that money comes from the private sector. The money isn’t free. It’s being taken out of the private economy and pumped through the private sector. The right path is to keep the money in the private sector and so they have money to invest. We should focus on growth in the private sector, not growth in the public sector.

I disagree on transferring aid to the states, but if more Paul Ryans populated the Republican Party we’d all be better off.


(image by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)

How Modern Conservatives Aren’t Like Hoover

July 14, 2010 2 comments

Recently, I posted a picture of Herbert Hoover attached to my thoughts on the austerity versus fiscal expansion debate. He famously (and should be more famous for) sought to balance the budget during the Great Depression, which exasperated the situation. In his defense, that was what the dominant consensus of economists advocated. Even FDR tried it for a while. Of course, Keynes came a long and eventually changed everything. In order to save capitalism (too many people forget that part) Keynes argued for increasing government deficits by fiscal stimulus to push aggregate demand rightward making up for the lack of private sector spending and to fight deflation. 


For Hoover, balancing the budget was a priority; for modern conservatives, balancing the budget is not only unimportant but something they actively work against. Matthew Yglesias makes the argument that lowering taxes and, thus, tax revenue is the only goal they pursue. He ably shows that they don’t ever work to reduce the deficit. 

1) There have been two presidents who were members of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, and they both presided over massive increases in both present and projected deficits.

 2) The major deficit reduction packages of the modern era, in 1990 and 1993, were both uniformly opposed by the conservative movement.

 3) When the deficit was temporarily eliminated in the late-1990s, the mainstream conservative view was that this showed that the deficit was too low and needed to be increased via large tax cuts.

 4) Senator Mitch McConnell says it’s a uniform view in his caucus that tax cuts needn’t be offset by other changes in spending.

 5) The deficit reduction commission is having trouble because they think conservative politicians won’t vote for any form of tax increase.

In sum, there are zero historical examples of conservatives mobilizing to make the deficit smaller.  

So the problem today with the modern mainstream conservative movement is that they don’t care about the deficit while simultaneously refusing to allow modern Keynesians from pursuing fiscal expansion or allowing real deficit hawks from reforming entitlements to adequately contain costs.

To preempt anyone that might agree with McConnell that tax cuts don’t lead to “diminished revenue” here is an older National Review piece blowing up that absurdity. And here’s Bruce Bartlett with a roundup of studies showing that “starve the beast” doesn’t work either. Meanwhile, Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman post some graphs that utterly demolish the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves: 


The above also bolsters my claim that unemployment insurance “benefits add almost nothing to the deficit and are just a temporary measure anyway”
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